The Guardian • Issue #2046


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2046

The construction union, the CFMEU, has urged the Albanese government to ramp up its ambition on the Housing Australia Future Fund, which needs more investment to deliver strong outcomes for workers and public housing residents. The government’s $10 billion future fund is slated to spend $500 million a year with the aim of building 30,000 homes over five years. Unmet demand is estimated to be at 650,000 homes. “Australia is in the grips of one of the most serious housing crises in our history so what’s on the table simply doesn’t cut it,” the union’s National Secretary Zach Smith said.

“Labor must be more ambitious on social housing. The future fund proposal needs its funding to be dramatically increased if we’re going to go anywhere near meeting the skyrocketing need for housing. We need to ensure this fund has strict requirements to train Australian apprentices and use high-quality locally manufactured materials.” The union says a more ambitious investment is a massive long-term opportunity for Australian jobs and industry, but it needs to come with a commitment on local procurement and training with the houses being built by properly paid workers who are protected by the very best safety standards. “A housing future fund is a massive chance to build a stronger construction industry through top-notch jobs, skills, safety, and local procurement,” said Smith. “The government’s commitment simply isn’t enough.”

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: Visions of a return to the colonial past fuel the insatiable greed of today’s transnational corporations, the great riches squeezed from slave labour. Joint stock companies, a depression, underground mining, and the colonial conquest of African chiefdoms all shaped the decision by the mining companies to introduce a closed compounds system in 1885. Compounds provided the framework for the total control of the African mineworkers. Once inside the military-style barracks, workers lost all access to the outside world for the length of a contract. In 1902 Gardner Williams, general manager of De Beers diamonds, described the largest compound: “Fully four acres are enclosed by the walls of De Beers’ Compound, giving ample space for the housing of its 3,000 inmates, with an open central ground for exercise and sports. The fences are of corrugated iron, rising ten feet above the ground, and there is an open space of ten feet between the fence and the buildings … Iron cabins fringe the inner sides of the enclosure, divided into rooms 25 feet by 30 feet, which are lighted by electricity. In each room 20 to 25 natives are lodged. The beds supplied are ordinary wooden bunks, and the bed clothing is usually composed of blankets which the natives bring with them, or buy at the stores in the compound, where there is a supply of articles to meet the simple needs of the natives. In the centre of the enclosure there is a large concrete swimming bath.”

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